Uses for Braces Elastics
By Kellyn Hodges on December 26, 2013
At the orthodontics practice of Dr. Kellyn Hodges in Philadelphia, braces elastics - the “rubber bands” many people associate with traditional metal braces - are often essential to successful orthodontic treatment. What those who do not wear braces may not realize is that there are actually two distinct types of rubber bands used in orthodontic treatment: elastic ligatures and interarch rubber bands.
During initial consultations with her patients, orthodontist Kellyn Hodges explains every aspect of treatment in detail, including the uses of braces elastics.
Uses of Elastic Ligatures
Elastic ligatures are tiny rubber bands that are used to hold the arch wire in place. They are wrapped around the braces to help guide the teeth toward their optimal positions through the exertion of force. Depending on the individual patient’s needs, Dr. Hodges may use single ligatures to exert force on individual teeth or connected elastic ligatures, which are used to close spaces between teeth or guide multiple teeth into the same direction. Elastic ligatures come in a variety of colors and strengths. For many youngsters who must undergo treatment with traditional metal braces, picking out their own color of ligatures is their favorite part of the entire experience (with the possible exception of getting the braces removed, that is!).
Uses of Interarch Rubber Bands
Interarch rubber bands are larger than elastic ligatures and serve an entirely different purpose. While the purpose of elastic ligatures is to exert pressure on the teeth, interarch rubber bands are intended to exert pressure on the jaw, moving it either back or forward depending on the patient’s needs. The reason for moving the jaw is to improve the bite, or the way that the top and bottom rows of teeth meet each other when the patient bites down. Ideally, the two rows should meet perfectly, without one or the other jutting out. A faulty bite can be the source of discomfort and even fairly intense pain, and can contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint, or the joint that hinges the lower jaw bone to the skull) disorder. Interarch rubber bands are attached to the brackets via hooks and, like elastic ligatures, come in a variety of strengths and colors.
Not all patients will require interarch rubber bands.
Removal and Replacement of the Elastics
For the sake of both hygiene and ensuring the efficacy of treatment, elastics must be worn, removed, and replaced precisely as directed by Dr. Hodges. They must be replaced at least once a day, but many patients end up having to replace them multiple times a day. Although this may seem at first like a hassle, it becomes second nature over time. It is a good idea for patients to carry extra elastics with them wherever they go; it is always possible for the elastics to break and for a replacement to be necessary. The success of treatment depends on the elastics being worn for as much of the day as possible.
Learn More about Braces Elastics
To learn more about braces elastics, or to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Hodges, please contact our orthodontics practice today.